Characteristic by indisputable quality and profound cultural syncretism, the art of medieval Georgia arose from a cultural crossroads between Europe and Asia and has unjustly been put off the side-lines of the art historical canon. The marginalization is due in large part to historiographic factors. Russian and Western scholars presented it from a colonial perspective as the art of the Byzantine periphery, analogous to the marginal political position of the South Caucasus within the USSR. In contrast, Georgian scholars throughout the 20th century were determined to demonstrate that Georgian “national” medieval art was fully autonomous and original. That reflected the Georgian impulse to achieve political autonomy within the Soviet Union. Deploying methods proper to the epistemology of art history, DeMGeo aims to investigate the historiographic construction of the three dominant narratives – Russian, Western, and Georgian – developed in art history textbooks about Georgian medieval art, within the context of the 20th century political and social history. By revealing and deconstructing political and ideological strategies in past scholarship, the ambition is to de-marginalize Georgian medieval art and to prepare the terrain for new research in the field within the framework of a transcultural approach. The results will be applicable for other marginalized art histories marked by contested historiography, specifically in the context of the countries behind the Iron Curtain, and/or of the young nation-states born from multi-ethnic empires. The project is in line with EU cultural diplomacy, contributing to debates about World cultural heritage as a peace-building and soft power tool in societies marked by conflict. DeMGeo will be targeted at diverse audiences, thanks to the support of the CEMS (HI), developing and applying innovative methods in the communication of academic research.
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